I thought I share the experience of a CSer who contacted me previously for opinion and discussion. He was an ex-client, I shot his wedding years back, he wasn't that into photography then yet. Anyway he was desperate and came close to consulting a lawyer. I was the natural person to turn to. His ok with me sharing as long as no one probes or know who he is. He told me not to pull punches as long as it's factual.
Like many CSers, he has a well paid full time job in the engineering field, photo hobby turned part time pro due to interest. Some months ago he booked his first wedding job above $1000 and shot it. Good skills good gear. He has shot a few friend's weddings for free as the 'Uncle Bob' and also solo shot a few simple rom for budget prices. He like the job and felt he can do it to earn extra income and pay off the money he spent on gear.
The client booked him 2 weeks before their wedding. For seasoned pros, last min bookings usually means a red flag. For him he grabbed the chance. They took his $1288 package which consist of 10 hours photography, express highlights and a 20 spread coffeetable album, those cheaper budget kind of photobook. The breakdown is $80 per hour = $800, express highlights $200, album $288. While the final number looks good for a newbie, it actually spells disaster.
He ended up charging $1088 giving the express highlight free after the couple bargained, and he also ended up covering more than 11 hours instead of 10. He incurred about $60+ in taxi fare - from early morning, rushing home to do Express highlights, and then rushing to hotel evening reception and then midnight charges after everything.
Also, he did not collect deposit nor payment, thinking of collecting only after delivery. Very bad move here.
Couple although promised him that they will, they did NOT apply for Rips music licensing, he reminded them a week before wedding day, but was ignored, he called them the day before the wedding, and they said its done. But on wedding day, they don't have it, claimed miscommunication. He was unable to do much due to rush of the day. For general info Rips license will cost $4000 a year for the vendor, or $96.3 for thr couple per one time use. Most likely the couple want to save that $96.30. He went on to do the express highlights anyway becoz he donno what to do - risking a 5 to 6 figure lawsuit if caught, plus an ugly situation with the couple. All for free, sadly. Fortunately, went smooth. What if not?
One month later he delivered the pictures - it took very long for a newbie, part time, to process a full day 11 hours of photos. He was editing daily for 2 hours every evening, except weekends. The couple was not happy because he promised and thought 1-2 weeks should be enough.
Cd delivered. He then tried getting the couple to choose pictures for the album but the couple did not get back to him for nearly 2 months. They just dont want to talk about it. His payment hanging too.
After 7weeks, they finally selected the pics. He gets to the album design work but realised they selected too many pictures, just cannot fit his 20 spreads nicely, they do not want to buy more spreads, yet do not want to reduce pics. He awkwardly fit in all pics they want which took him another week to do it plus time for couple to respond. After that the couple said the layout not nice, pictures too small, ask him to redo. He cannot stand it anymore. So he redo and put in 5 more spreads free for them - hoping to satisfy them. Which cost $35 in material cost, but he already invested huge amount of time corresponding, designing and redesigning. They happy. So he send to print. Delivered the album, reached home, received a call that they realized he missed one family picture - don't want to pay. Yes his fault coz he so mentally stretched that he genuinely made mistakes. He told me at this point he was mentally drained plus his wife was against him doing photography he cannot confide with her too. He was thinking if small claims courts can help him get his payment back and want to ask a lawyer on his rights. Of course not worth it.
I told him he got two solutions, either collect $800 from the couple and keep the album for himself as sample. Or see if he can logically fit pictures in with another spread, and to negotiate with the album vendor if they can print and restitch the bind. Can - which cost him $7 material cost for another spread. Restitching - $30. He chose the second option- he want to get rid of that album coz he don't wanna see their faces anymore. Another 1 weeks plus to do this plus more running around, finally settled after Christmas period.
Despite his desire to end this asap, I advised him to wait a few more days, nearer to Chinese New Year, to get more leverage and higher chance of settling the issue completely, as newly weds might need to show album during CNY. He took my suggestion and finally it's settled.
All in all, how many extra cost he incurred and how many extra hours he put in, I lost count. Time lost with the wife and kid, was lost forever